So yes I know this is an unpopular sleeper idea.  And yes part deux the return of ‘si’ there are a lot of things that hinge on him gaining value for 2012.  This post probably applies more to deeper leagues than it does a standard one but I think we all need to take a closer look at what Chris Ivory has done with the Saints since 2010.  Though most of his stats are front-loaded onto the 2010 season, over 18 games with the Saints, Ivory has managed 216 touches and 1090 yards rushing, good for a 5 yard per carry average to go with 6 touchdowns.  Look, I understand fantasy football is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ sport but living in the now might make you miss Ivory as a cheap 2012 fantasy football sleeper.

First off, let’s discuss why we didn’t see much of Ivory in 2011 compared to his rookie season and in turn why we only saw him on the field for 12 games in 2010.  The kid is an injury risk.  Yeah, this sleeper post really isn’t starting off very well at all.  But I’ll say this, you tell me what running back isn’t an injury risk?  It’s fantasy football, people, a game where a guy who only has one full season under his belt – Arian Foster – is going #1 off the board.  You take your risks when you draft such a physical position so worrying about the health risk of Ivory who’s going as the 235th player off the board in yahoo leagues seems a little pointless in the grand scheme of things.

So normally I tell people to flat out avoid teams with no clear RB1 in place as it leads to lack of consistency.  In New Orleans, there seems to be a four-headed monster brewing with Ivory joining a team that already has Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, and Mark Ingram.  Well with regards to Sproles, Ivory shouldn’t be bothered by his role in the offense seeing as Darren is the designated receiving back with over half of his touches in 2011 being receptions rather than carries (87 vs 86).  In fact, once Ivory returned to the team over the last 6 games in 2011, Sproles saw his carry attempts drop nearly a full carry a game.  Though it is a small sample size, we have to realize the Saints want to put their running backs in the most effective position they can possibly be in and for Sproles that’s catching the ball in the open field, not getting the hand off.

Since we started this post with discussion about the injury bug hitting Ivory, I feel it only fair to take down another player with a similar curse who was anointed the rookie running back to own in 2011.  Ingram led the Saints in carries with 122…that’s pretty much the only positive we can say about Mark at this point.  He turned those 122 carries into a 3.9 yard per carry average and he did it hopping on and off the injured list playing in only 10 games and it’s not like his health has been stellar even in his college career.  Now obviously I am not writing him off for 2012 but I do think the price tag for Ingram – 103rd pick in yahoo leagues – feels high considering the history involved.

That’s three running backs, two of which I’ve personally gone over.  So where in this dog pile of running backs does Ivory fit in?  Well, the cool thing is he may not have to.  There are other ways of squeezing value out of having so many running backs to choose from and the Saints just might choose to improve another part of their team via trade.  Just google ‘Chris Ivory’ and then click on the ‘News’ section to see what I’m seeing.  Rumors abound with regards to Ivory going everywhere from the Steelers to the Broncos.  There are plenty of teams that could put Ivory’s skill set to work but overall, even if Ivory stays, he has a good chance to retain some value.  Though not a receiving back, the Saints were the 6th best rushing team in 2011 so there’s room to speculate on Ivory having value in 2012, especially for what you pay for him.  Now all that I ask is you don’t throw tomatoes at your computer screen.  That’s not a good way to treat your electronics.

2012 Projections: 875 rushing yards, 10 receptions, 80 receiving yards, 4 total touchdowns (<——- optimism at it’s finest)